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Regarding the Dec. 26 article “Four sent to the gallows“: While enjoying a wonderful visit to Kyoto, I was shocked to learn of the execution of four people on Christmas Day.

The global trend is toward the abolishment of the death penalty, with 118 countries either being signatories to the U.N. Covenant on Political and Human Rights, which specifically forbids the death penalty, or having abolished it in practice. Even in the United States, public opinion has moved strongly against capital punishment, and across the world there is no evidence of its deterrent effect in any society or culture.

While superficially the majority of the people in Japan may appear to be in favor of the death penalty, one would expect in-depth research of public opinion to produce a different result — especially in a country where Buddhism, with a such a strong belief in the sanctity of life, is widely followed.

martin barrow

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